Monday, January 30, 2012
Synopsis: Ryan Linahan lived an ordinary life as a high school biology teacher, until Great-Uncle George Parker died. While helping his family to go through all of Great-Uncle George's belongings, Ryan discovered a box full of old letters that revealed that the Parker family had some serious skeletons in the closet -- skeletons that were about to come back to life.
Upon finding a genealogical link between the Parkers and the Meadows and Fry families, who had left behind a legacy of dark reputation and ill will in the small, rural Pennsylvania village where they lived, Ryan becomes obsessed with finding out what it was his ancestors were actually guilty of. And his obsession leads him to become ensnared in events that, though they happened in the 19th century, are far from over, and in the end may reawaken evil that was thought to be dead and buried for over a century.
Sounds good, right? It was. The plot was intricate. It touches on Native American legends, demonic possession, conspiracies, inherited evil and madness. And yet, it all makes sense and doesn't lose the reader. The characters were sympathetic and easily likable. The added bits of history, found in the letters, old newspaper articles and other genealogical records was icing on the cake. There is some switching of pov- you get different characters with different chapters- was well done and not confusing as 'head-hopping' sometimes can be. The writing style flows well and the story plays out nicely, while the end satisfies. No lose ends here.
I'm going to give it four stars. It is well worth the read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good scary tale with some history thrown in. I'm looking forward to reading more of Gordon's work.
You can find out more about Gordon over at The Author Spot today, as he kindly consented to an interview. You can find out more about him and his published works at his blog. And you can buy The Conduit on Amazon.com.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
So I crawled into bed with my Kindle and started this collection. And a short time later I found myself in tears. That doesn't happen often. But the first story in the collection was so moving, that I couldn't help myself. I got caught up in the story from the very first paragraph. Rosser has an unbelievable talent for immersing you immediately in the character's lives. The interplay between the characters is so real that they could be the couple next door. They are genuine, slightly flawed and absolutely believable. His writing flows well and pulls you along the storyline.
Of the three stories, the title story, The Robber, was easily my favorite, despite the tears. Winchester 30/30 begs the question, how well do we really know our parents? And Genny, is a wonderful slice of one man's life and struggle with temptation. Also included in the collection are two poems which I also enjoyed.
I would recommend The Robber: Selected Works for anyone who enjoys literary fiction. For those who enjoy little vignettes of other's lives, those who liked their heartstrings tugged, and honesty in fiction.
You can find out more about WJ Rosser and his alter ego, Jeremy Wright, over at The Author Spot, where he has kindly consented to an interview.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
When "Bram Stoker Award" winning author David Niall Wilson messaged me, I almost fell off my chair. I had read many of his short works in places like Cemetery Dance magazine and other anthologies, but I'd never read any of his novels, so when he offered me the chance, I took it. I chose Ancient Eyes because it was a new one, and the synopsis appealed to me.
Synopsis: There is an ancient evil lurking in the mountains of California. One peak over from Friendly, California, there is another, darker place. In that place there are two churches. Displaced from a time and place far distance, an ancient carving watches from an alcove above the door of a broken down, nearly forgotten church. When the evil it embodies reaches out and snags the soul of Silas Greene, roots creep down into the mountain and out into everything they touch. There is another church on the mountain. It is made of stone, carved into the stone of the mountain, and also all but forgotten.
A message goes out to Abraham Carlson. "He's Back. Come home, boy." When young Abraham returns to the mountain, and to that stone church, a battle is rejoined that should have ended decades in the past. When the cleansing began - and was never completed. The only question is, does Abraham have the strength...or will he, and everyone he loves, fall into the depths of those evil, ancient eyes...
The best word I can use to describe the novel is intense. It pulled me in every night when I sat down to read. David is a master at description and character building, without being overly verbose or repetitive. The characters and setting he created were easily imaginable and at once, familiar. I was drawn along into the story and really wasn't sure how it was going to end. Was good going to win? Or is evil unstoppable? I won't spoil it for you by saying, but I will tell you that the ending is very satisfying.
I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed David's style of writing. It was lyrical and compelling. I had no trouble dropping right back into where I'd left off and I didn't want to put the Kindle down each night (unfortunately falling asleep and dropping it on your head is rather painful) and only did so when my lids began to droop. The story is an old one- good vs. evil, light vs. dark, but he never crossed the line into preaching at the reader. The religion of the good was well done without being overdone and the evil was broodingly malevolent, without being unbelievable. At the heart of the novel are the battles we all face: the struggle between good and bad within ourselves, and the struggle to keep our roots without letting them hold us back.
It may have been the first novel of his I've read, but it will not be the last. I'll hungrily devour more. One last word of warning- if you don't like snakes, prepare to be extremely uncomfortable, because there are a lot of them in the book (obviously representing temptation and evil). I hate snakes. Loathe them. But I made it through with only mild squirming.
I rarely give 5 stars- but this deserves them.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I read The Harbor, by Al Lamanda, because of something I saw on Facebook. In one of the groups I belong to, Al (can I call you Al?) had posted a message he'd gotten from a woman requesting a refund. Her reason? She thought the book was too scary. What better praise for a horror writer, I ask you. So I immediately downloaded the book to my Kindle. Holidays finally finished and I realized that I had about 30 books to read. Where to start? Well I'm always looking for a good scare, so I started The Harbor.
I finished the book last night. It took me three nights to read, as I have a reading period from about 10pm to midnight every night. Last night I stayed up until one to finish the book. Yes, I was that hooked. And after I put the light out, I was still thinking about the premise of the book. And, I'll admit, I was a bit uneasy lying there in the dark. That's the ultimate praise I can give a horror novel- if it makes me uneasy after I put out the light, then it was well done.
I went to amazon.com today to see what other reviewers had said. Most were favorable, but there was one two star. He pointed to flaws (typos, wrong words, ect.). I did notice those things (I can't take off the editor glasses when I read), but they weren't bad enough to distract me from the story itself. He said the writing was bad. I disagree. Each to his own, but I feel pretty qualified to judge storytelling skill. And he pointed out that there was a lot of cigarette smoking and eating in the book (I wondered why I was so hungry!) and there was, but it fit the storyline. I don't even smoke, but had I been a character in this book, I think I would have started.
The basic story is about a small island off the coast of Maine which seems to have a habit of erupting into bloody, unsolved murders every so often. It happens again and Sheriff Mark Blaine wants to get to the bottom of the problem. There is a host of other characters in the story, but Blaine is ultimately my favorite. He's a flawed character and it lends a depth of vulnerability that really makes him likable. The murders are sufficiently gory and the plot speeds along. The central premise of possession and evil is well explained and plausible. I don't think the religious aspect was overdone at all. I liked that explanation of why some were possessed and some were granted absolution. And oddly enough, with all the gruesome axe murders in this book, it was the one accidental death that left me the most horrified. Now you have to read it, just to figure out what I'm talking about!
Overall, I'd recommend this book. The story was a good one, the characters well developed, the premise sound and the action swift. It left me thinking about it long after I'd put the book down. I'll definitely read more of this author's work.